The best camping equipment is often the items you are most likely to overlook, so make sure you’re a happy camper with this list of the most underrated camping gear.
1. Cable ties
Cable ties save countless camping trips from doom with their ability to temporarily secure or mend a raft of camping-related items. Able to keep anything from a foldable chair to a 4WD from falling apart when (relative) disaster strikes, your trip’s chances of derailment are much lower with a bag of cable ties around.
When you’re in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of the elements (and the gear you remembered to pack), the ability to make fire suddenly becomes a huge boon. Keeping a flint handy, or better yet on your person, can be useful in both extreme circumstances as well as simple ones like ‘I forgot the matches’.
The eternal struggle to keep your tent or swag’s interior – and more importantly your bedding – free of dirt, twigs and insects can be made much easier with some matting at the entry to your bush abode. A single piece of mesh matting gives you a relatively clean space to take your shoes off or wipe your feet before hitting the hay.
4. Long-handled shovel
Once you’re camping, your shovel transforms itself from a humble digging device into an all-out multi-tool. Aside from its main purpose, a long-handled shovel is a perfect manipulator of hot coals, not to mention a fair cooking surface for those times you forget to bring a BBQ plate.
The beauty of rope is in its simplicity, which makes it useful in a variety of situations. A decent length of rope makes for a quick and easy washing line, while more obviously can be used for securing items like tarps in rough weather; it also works better than bungee cords for bundling wood together or to your vehicle.
A tarpaulin sheet is useful in so many circumstances that it’s basically criminal to forget it when you go camping. Ideal protection for gear in a downpour and for campers when your tent is ripped, a tarp is also an easy ground sheet (or picnic blanket), a windbreak, a potential 4WD water blind for deep water crossings, as well as the makings of a water-gathering device in an emergency.
7. Baby wipes
A clean solution for a variety of messy problems, baby wipes are perfect for a dry shower, as well as for wiping hands, plates and other surfaces when water is precious – not to mention their more common hygienic purpose.
8. Collapsible sink
Cleaning up after a group meal around the campfire can be a painful and inefficient process (and a waste of water) without something as simple as a sink. Collapsible sinks are amazingly compact for camping and hiking, while they can also be used for capturing water if need be.
The times you truly appreciate proper illumination are often when you’re standing in a campsite at night, staring into the darkness without a clue of what’s in front of you. Torches and ambient camping lights are all well and good when you have them, but a good headlamp is far more useful. Not only do you retain intuitive control over your light source, but you can keep both your hands free while completing tasks like setting up camp or cooking dinner.
If your GPS navigation or mobile device breaks or runs out of battery when you’re navigating in the city, help (and some directions) is never far away. The same thing cannot be said when you’re in the bush – often because you’re deliberately trying to get some distance from civilisation – elevating your paper map from trip planner to primary navigation tool. For this reason, it’s always important to keep a reliable map of the area you’re exploring with you when you camp.